Steppenwolf Welcomes New Ensemble Members

Steppenwolf Welcomes New Ensemble MembersSteppenwolf Theatre Company Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro announced today the addition of Rajiv Joseph and Karen Rodriguez to the world-renowned Steppenwolf ensemble. An Obie Award-wining and Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright, Rajiv Joseph's Guards at the Taj was produced at Steppenwolf this past May to great acclaim. Karen Rodriguez, a celebrated Chicago-based actor, recently performed at Steppenwolf in The Doppelgänger (an international farce) and The Rembrandt, and will be featured in this season's world premiere of Isaac Gomez's La Ruta, in a role written specifically for her.

"Rajiv's work is extraordinary both for its breadth and its depth, nothing short of a truly dazzling range. He is not only a gifted theatre maker, he is a constructive and inspiring collaborator and truly one of the smartest and kindest people I've ever met. Karen's work is always vibrant, original and so, so brave. A grand comedienne already, a truthful and connected acting partner at all times, Karen embodies everything we value in our company and everything we want to see on our stages. We are deeply grateful to have these two exceptional artists joining our family," shares Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

Rajiv Joseph shares, "It's a tremendous honor to be invited to be a part of this legendary community of theatre artists. Steppenwolf's commitment to adventurous and political art makes them, in my mind, one of the most important theaters in the country and the world. I'm humbled and energized to join their ranks."

Karen Rodriguez shares, "I don't think I have ever felt more alive, electric onstage than at Steppenwolf. It has been a place where I have been able to explore the depths of humanity and imagine myself in all walks of life, without limit, amongst inspiring artists. So to be able to call this my artistic home...there are no words. I am completely humbled and excited for what's to come."


Rajiv Joseph's play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice won the Obie Award for Best New American Play, first in 2016 with Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play) and then, this year, for Describe the Night. Other plays include Archduke, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper, The Lake Effect, The North Pool and Mr. Wolf. Joseph has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. He is a board member of the Lark Play Development Center in New York City. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Karen Rodriguez is a Chicago based actor from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. At Steppenwolf, she was last seen in the world premiere of The Doppelgänger (an international farce and The Rembrandt. This season she will be featured in Steppenwolf's world premiere of La Ruta by Isaac Gomez, directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez. Other Chicago credits include Breach (Victory Gardens Theater); The Displaced (Haven Theater); The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater Center); Blue Skies Process (Goodman Theatre); Hookman (Steep Theatre); and good friday (Oracle). Television credits include Chicago Justice. Rodriguez is a 2017 recipient of the Make a Wave 3Arts Award.

Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the Steppenwolf's ensemble features the best in American Theatre. Since Anna D. Shapiro began as Artistic Director in 2015, Cliff Chamberlain, Celeste M. Cooper, Glenn Davis, Audrey Francis, Sandra Marquez, Caroline Neff and Namir Smallwood have also been welcomed into the ensemble.

Steppenwolf ensemble members include: Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Cliff Chamberlain, Gary Cole, Celeste M. Cooper, Glenn Davis, Kathryn Erbe, Audrey Francis, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Rajiv Joseph, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney, Tina Landau, Martha Lavey*, Tracy Letts, John Mahoney*, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, Mariann Mayberry*, Tarell Alvin McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Bruce Norris, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, William Petersen, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Karen Rodriguez, Anna D. Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Namir Smallwood, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost and Alan Wilder. *In Memoriam

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation's premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County-and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards-have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago's diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit,, and


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